The global beauty and cosmetics industry is expected to be valued at more than USD 805 billion over the next four years*. Day-yum people, that’s a serious superfluity of schizzles we’re schmearing all over ourselves!
However, despite these billions of schmeary schizzles, this far-reaching global industry is almost entirely unregulated (yes, UN-regulated!) and consequently, beauty companies have been given unlimited latitude to openly, well, lie about their products. Yet perhaps more alarmingly, it gives them unlimited latitude to lie about what is in their products. Maybe she’s born with it . . . maybe it’s hella toxic skincare filled with repulsive sulfates and parabens.
As players in the consumer eco-system, we’re all responsible for caring about what we buy, how much we buy, the businesses we support and, in turn, our environmental footprint. When you choose to purchase beauty products that are made without ethics and regulations - and with unnecessary, toxic ingredients - you’re casting a vote for an environmentally-f__ked future.
Enter stage left, me always frantically on the look-out for clean and conscious beauty companies - and to this end, Vanderohe ticks about a trillion, gazillion boxes for me. Non-toxic oils that are luxurious and effective AF: tick one. Donating profits to reef propagation programmes: tick two. Believing in and combatting climate change: ahh hello! Tick three!
So, join us on our tête-à-tête with #CleanWarrior, Olivia Thorpe, founder and creator of award-winning clean beauty company Vanderohe . . .
let’s start at the very beginning . . .
Olivia: “I studied Modern Languages at Oxford, and then joined the graduate program at Reuters. One thing led to another, as it so often does early in your career, and it wasn’t long before I very happily and fortunately found myself heading to New York to work with JP Morgan.
“However, I couldn’t escape my passion for writing while in the US and so I began an anti-beauty blog that I called Vanderohe. It was a wonderful outlet for me while working in the finance world, and I was able to interview quite a few big names in the beauty industry.
“The blog meant I was sent all sorts of products to test from famous and ‘trusted’ companies in the beauty world. Yet soon after launching the website, I developed a severe skin allergy. From the literal hundreds of products I’d be sent for the blog, I was not able to find one single product to help my skin. Not one!
“It was at this point that I started doing some research of my own and began blending plant oils. Shortly thereafter, I created the formula for my ‘No.1 Nourishing Face Serum’ as an anti-scarring remedy for a friend. I loved the scent so much I kept a bottle back for myself and when I tried it on myself, it cured my skin almost overnight! I’ve used it religiously ever since.”
Talk to us about brand values
Olivia: “My philosophy is that beauty is in the detail. Every single oil I use must be of the highest grade of organic and wildcrafted. It must be sourced from its native soil, which makes for the most potent oil. The bottles must be miron glass – the most protective and enhancing for essential oils. The packaging must be eco-friendly, with as little plastic as possible - this means no lamination on boxes - and cotton stock instead of paper, with biodegradable packaging nuggets.
“Essentially every step of the process - the sourcing, formulation, packaging and shipping - is symbiotic with my core values of protecting people and planet. I simply will not cut corners. I want people to be able to use one fast-working product instead of ten; I want that product to be as low-impact on the environment as possible; and I want customers to love it so much that they never want to stop using it. Imagine if everyone did that . . . the plastic footprint of the beauty industry would shrink significantly!”
how and where are your products made?
Olivia: “I make everything myself in my studio. I can’t envisage a day when I will be able to trust anyone – or any machine – to take this on! I’m a complete perfectionist with my work, so if an oil doesn’t seem perfect (oils can vary hugely, even when sourced from the same producer with the same organic certification, from the same plant species) I will reject and replace it.
“If customers have to wait because of this, they have to wait. I won’t compromise on quality. The blending process is one I’ve done for three years now and I know it inside out. I notice every minor detail, every change in scent and colour during the mixing process. For me, it’s an art, and I fear that only the ‘artist’ who created it in the first place has that precision and passion to continually make it just so.”
How do Vanderohe products help to achieve a more minimal lifestyle?
Olivia: “They work and they work fast. They work on the skin and they work on your mindset. Each product is designed to replace multiple products, whilst never skimping on efficacy and luxury.
“The motivation always has been - and always will be - to help other people struggling to feel confident in their skin, just as I was.”
how does Vanderohe support a green planet?
Olivia: “We contribute to a tree-planting scheme to offset our carbon footprint, yet most importantly we donate 10% profits to Marine Savers, an amazing team of marine biologists and conservationists who work out of the Four Seasons Lan-daa Giraavaru resort in the Maldives.
“They run the world’s leading coral reef propagation programme, rescuing and rehabilitating turtles; and they work tirelessly to support a sustainable ocean with healthy and diverse ecosystems, in an attempt to reverse a lot of the damage us humans do by leading incredibly unsustainable lives.”
Which is your favourite product and why?
Olivia: “No.1 Nourishing Face Serum. The snowball of, often life-changing, feedback I’ve had ever since I started giving little bottles of the oil out to people has been overwhelming. And that’s not to mention the difference it made to my own skin!”
What’s next for Vanderohe?
Olivia: “The Vanderohe No.1 Facial!”
Little side bar question: what’s your favourite part of motherhood?
Olivia: “Cosleeping. There’s no better feeling in the world than having your kids snuggled up in the bed with you and listening to them breathe as you fall asleep!” (Ed: agreed!)
And before we ask the 13, Any tips on achieving ‘work-life balance’?
Olivia: “None – if you hear of any, please send my way!!! I fail to achieve ‘the perfect balance’ on a daily basis!”